Ystad is a small but charming city in Scania, or Skåne, part of southern Sweden. It is on the south coast of Scania and has good beaches west and east of the town. Its harbour is a meeting place of ship, train and bus connections. It has a new marina and makes a great base for exploring the area, as well as Skåne.
The area was first settled in the 12th century, and the town has an attractive medieval centre, and its coastal position, facing Germany across the Baltic, means that it was closely associated with the Hanseatic League, which it joined in the 14th century. Until the 19th century, Ystad was one of Sweden's most important ports, but when the railway Södra Stambana was hauled to Malmö instead of Ystad, Ystad quickly lost its significance. On the other hand, this development meant that during a period when often old buildings from city centers were destroyed in the way of new ones, Ystad did not grow and this development did not gain momentum in the city. Therefore, there is still a large number of very old building stock in the center of Ystad, dating back to the Middle Ages. Ystad's cityscape with half-timbered houses and pleasant pedestrian streets is valued so that, for example, in 2017 the city was among the 20 candidates in the public vote for the most beautiful city in Sweden on the Arkitekturupproret blog.
Ystad hosts a number of festivals and has a decent art museum, plus a number of other museums and attractions. It is known internationally as the setting for many of the novels of Henning Mankell, featuring fictional Ystad police inspector Kurt Wallander (see Nordic Noir). There are regular Wallander tours in several languages, and even free showings of films in the main square (Stortorget).
From elsewhere in Sweden, travel to Malmö and take a local train ("pågatåg") from there operated by Skånetrafiken. From Copenhagen there's a direct train (IC Bornholm) from Copenhagen, operated by DSB. Copenhagen also has rail connections from further south in Europe, even Cologne and Brussels.
Walk. Everything is easily accessible on foot. There's also a little tourist street 'train'.
- 1 Ales Stenar, Kåseberga (15 km east of Ystad). The Stonehenge of Sweden, a 67-metre-long stone ship formed by 59 large boulders of sandstone, a megalithic monument from the Nordic Iron Age, around 600 AD. You can reach the site by car or by bus from Ystad. There are lots of information signs at the parking lot. Walk the 700 metres up the hill from the parking lot and you will reach the stones. There is no entrance fee to the Stones but a guided tour will cost you 40 kr per person. The tour is free for children younger than 17.
- 2 Biografteatern Scala, St. Östergatan 12. Sweden's oldest cinema, now restored.
- Karl XII's Hus, Stora Västergatan. The "house of Charles XII" where the king is said to have spent the night.
- 3 S:ta Maria, Stortorget 2A. A church from the 13th century and the oldest surviving building in Ystad and one of Skånes oldest brick churches. From 21:15 until 03:00 the night-watchman blows his horn to reassure the townsfolk that all is well.
- 4 S:t Petri, S:t Petri Kyrkoplan. An old church and monastery. It is today a museum of local cultural history.
- 5 Ystads Konstmuseum, St Knuts Torg. Open Tu-Su. A good art museum, with interesting exhibitions and a decent shop.
- 6 Ystad Film Studio, Elis Nilssons väg 5, ☏ . Ystad is a centre of the Swedish film industry; the studios were established at the closure of the old military barracks and there are guided tours available, plus the Cineteket, an interactive film museum.
- Walk through the old part of the city and enjoy the old half-timbered houses. In the evening eat and drink on the main square or shopping streets, and enjoy the comings and goings of the volunteer fire brigade in their antique vehicles.
- Follow the Wallander trails - if you are a fan of the books or films there are many, many references as Mankell based his material on actual places and situations. If this is to be believed there seems to have been a murder or gruesome incident on almost every corner of the town. In reality the police are hardly ever seen, except when parking up to collect a burger order from the stall on St Knuts Torg, near to the excellent Tourist Information office within the Art Museum.
- During summer, enjoy a walk by the beach (east of the town). Stop by and grab a beer or ice cream at "Fritidsbaren" and get a good view of the ocean.
- North of the town is a beautiful lake and forest area. Several national parks are found within a short drive.
- Every other year, Ystad hosts a tattoo, a must-see if you are interested in music. See the website for more information.
- Ystad is the perfect base for exploring south Scania; there's a wealth of places to visit, something for everyone, and the Tourist Information in town is very helpful.
- Ystad Jazz Festival.
Several good eateries in town, including Japanese, Chinese and Thai.
- 1 Möllers Bryggeri, Långgatan 20. Doubles as a brewery. Great food and you can sit in a characterful courtyard or inside dominated by giant shiny copper stills.
- 2 Havsnära Fiskrökeri, Segelgatan 17, ☏ . Easy to overlook but a small smokery with excellent bargain dishes to take away or eat sitting outside. Great fish and chips, and friendly service. Head for the marina, pass the two restaurants and it's tucked away between the car park and the dunes.
See Möllers Bryggeri above, with its own brewery.
- 1 Hotell Bäckagården, Dammgatan 36, ☏ . A friendly and charming hotel rather more like a guesthouse than a hotel.
- 2 Continental du Sud, Hamngatan 13, ☏ . Wallander's favorite.
- 3 Hotell Prins Carl, Hamngatan 8, ☏ .
- 4 Hotell Anno 1793 Sekelgården, Långgatan 18, ☏ .
- 5 Hotell Tornväktaren, Stora Östergatan 33, ☏ .
- 6 Ystads Saltsjöbad, Saltsjöbadsvägen 15, ☏ .
- 7 Rapsbollen bed & breakfast, Peppingevägen 260, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 13:00. Well-known, cosy bed&breakfast north of Kåseberga and 15 min east of Ystad. Price per room includes breakfast, bed linen, towels and 30 min qigong each morning before breakfast. Small café and art gallery. Bicycles for hire. Close to the sea and white sand beaches. 695-1095 kr.
- Lund - An old university town
- Malmö - The largest city in Scania and the gateway to Copenhagen and Denmark.